the unemployed will be forced to undertake voluntary work including picking up litter and cleaning graffiti… they will have to work at least 30 hours a week.
Somebody buy that journalist a dictionary - how is forced work voluntary?
Anyway, Job Seeker’s Allowance is:
Person aged 16-17: £35.65
Person aged 18-24: £46.85
Person aged 25 or over: £59.15
(I love that – the same government that outlaws age discrimination for employers has three brackets of unemployment benefits and the minimum wage based solely on age. Which shops sell groceries cheaper to under-25s then?)
Someone 25 or over working 30 hours would be paid £1.97 an hour. The minimum wage is £5.52.
Given there are already people who remove graffiti and pick up litter but who'll now be unneeded, we can sack them, put them on the dole, then re-employ them on unemployment benefits at a third of the price. Bargain.
Who thinks this will be valuable work experience? What employer would look at a CV and say, 'well, I see you were forced to pick up litter for a month, that's the sort of person we want working for us'?
This isn't even attempting any training. It's a punishment and a deterrent; it's a sentence. It is, in fact, exactly what people are sentenced to on community service. We are equating long-term unemployment with criminality.
The same shake-up attacks Incapacity Benefit claimants too.
In February government welfare adviser David Freud suggested less than a third of the 2.7 million people claiming the benefit were doing so legitimately.
Every single person on Incapacity Benefit has been signed off by their GP, a fully qualified doctor, someone who - unlike Mr Freud - actually has examined them and is trained to judge. Anyone then found to be near to the borderline is further examined by a government doctor.
There are surely some scammers, but to say the overwhelming majority are fraudulent is a huge slur on a serious proportion of GPs and all of the government doctors.
Do we really think they’re all so easily hoodwinked? Or is this just paving the way so that when we hear of the sick and unemployed being victimised and undergoing privation we feel like they've got it coming?
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell says of the new regime
one of the revolutionary things that happen is that we will be using the benefits that we would have spent if people had stayed on the benefit... to get them back into health and back into work.
It’s not just using the benefits that would’ve been spent, it’s plainly forking out a lot more than that.
After a year of claiming unemployment benefits, people will be handed over to private firms... Firms successfully returning people to the workforce for the long-term will receive bonuses of up to £50,000.
That - just the bonus, before the firm's standard fees - is equivalent to over 16 years of Job Seekers Allowance. Do we really think that’s value for money? Or does the government just feel better giving the benefits budget to wealthy private firms instead of poverty stricken individuals?
All of this comes in the same week that unemployment rose again. There are already 1.6 million unemployed and it's rising.
Given the economic forecast, it's only going to rise further, so why the musical chairs? Why are people being penalised for not having a job when there's not the jobs to fill now, let alone in the darker times to come?
If there's more people than jobs and that's always going to be the case, what do we do with the spare people?
We can't let them starve, not only because it's more humane not to make people destitute but because it's cheaper. Penniless people would be more likely to rob the rest of us, and then there'd be the cost of court cases and incarceration.
It would be cheapest to let those content to live on the lowest benefits stay there unfettered. Job-finding help could then be focused on those actually wanting jobs. Instead we’re unshakeably committed to spending a lot of money attempting to force people to do things they don't want to.
If there were full employment there’d be a case for forcing people into work, but as it is and seemingly shall ever be, there are a lot of unemployed people. Making them demean themselves by playing musical chairs for jobs and then treating those who don’t get one same way we treat minor offenders is expensive and cruel.